Saturday, August 29, 2015

How Stephie, Sujata, and Sherri Saved Me from Myself... Or Not

This is my entire stash... after 46 years of quilting. Small shoe boxes of scrap quilts in progress are topped with my scrap bag (formerly the packaging for a set of bed sheets.) The larger boxes are my stash and a couple of tops. The fabrics definitely need sorting and refolding. That's okay; I love to pet fabric. It's important for me to remain intimately acquainted with each piece. {I have no idea why; I'm just weird that way.} Then there's the top box... I'll get to that.

All my fabric and WIPs
Three years ago I started saving selvedges. Just tossed them into a small ziplock and later into a drawer. Last week, the drawer wouldn't close. Upon investigation...

Three years of selvedge collecting. Oh, my.
It's more than my scrap bag. {Why, oh, why did I start saving selvedges?} Time to make them into something or pass them along.

My "use it up or clear it out" tendency applies to all fabric. I get rid of clothing, sheets and towels frequently, especially when we move. Remember the scenes where American pioneers reaching the Rockies tossed things from their wagons to get over the mountains? These are my forebears - emotionally and genetically.

On the other hand...

Years ago I read Chinese made the first quilts by sewing older fabrics from deceased relatives onto newer material as an act of reverence and remembrance. My husband's outlook is similar. Everything has deep, personal meaning. If he had his way, nothing would ever be thrown away. Bless his heart, he never complains when I sort and discard clothing... which happens frequently.

How did Stephie, Sujata, and Sherri save me? Stephie made a charming Ocean Waves pillow from repurposed clothing. The soft, varied shades really attracted me. Sujata posted several quilts which included some of her husband's old shirts, most recently here. I had a large pile of clothing in the car headed to Goodwill when Stephie wrote a helpful post about deconstructing shirts. Back they went to the house, but not on a hanger. They overflowed the top box until I spent an afternoon "deboning" them.

Shirts - deboned and folded neatly.
Fourteen shirts, one dress and one pair of slacks now fit nicely into the top bin and the lid fastens again. Those pesky collars, cuffs, zippers, and flat fell seams are in the trash. I wonder if he'll recognize them in a quilt?

Now I'm seriously considering adding t-shirts to this mix. For years, I've admired Sherri Wood's Passage quilt. This most joyful quilt memorializes the loss of a teenage son. But what a wonderful way to combine personal clothing from one person over the years or from an entire family.

Everything I touch has personal meaning and now I'm saving it all. {Gasp.} I'm becoming my husband!

Enjoy the day,

20 comments:

  1. My husband and I have the same sort of thinking as your husband. I thought it came from growing up very poor. Glad you are a convert now! Waste not...want not!

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    1. But I need to be able to find my things. And I do question how much stuff anyone needs... Except for quilts. Never too many of those.

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    2. Yes, I do understand being able to find things. Unfortunately our way of thinking...treasuring everything (also sometimes known as hoarding)...leads to what some believe is a house full of crap! So far my husband and I can find things! (I don't even really throw away a single fabric scrap...they go into my garden as mulch).

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    3. Oh, my goodness. I do that, too. I use my fabric; it rarely is given away. But the scraps go to the compost pile. I think keeping it all out helps. There's plenty to choose from and I can shop for a specific item if I need something. I just don't believe "she who dies with the most fabric wins." Perhaps the one with the most quilts. :-)

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  2. What a heartfelt post. So many ideas within these words.

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    1. Thanks, Julie. I have been considering purchasing smaller bins. They would be lighter and I could put the fabric on end so it might be easier to see.

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  3. so much discipline... if you need anything, come shopping in my stash... you might have to look all over the house. LeeAnna

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    1. Haha. Seriously, I usually have enough. Or at least I know exactly what I want to find and buy. I think we all could find more in our stash. Everyone has their own voice and it's already in the fabric we collected. Just waiting to be curated/chosen one more time.
      My, that's profound. Another post?

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  4. Ann, I cried over Mary Kessler's Passages quilt. It is a beautiful idea though. Life has so many passages.
    It is amazing that this is all the stash you have accrued. I love what you wrote about it being important for you to remain intimately acquainted with each piece. I think that carries over into your quilts. I would like to be like that more, but half the time I forget what I have already.
    So many bloggers do amazing things with the fabric from old clothing and it makes me rethink my goodwill giveaway habits too.

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    1. I know, Lara. It's the happiest quilt but its creation was the saddest event. I first saw it online a decade ago. I've always admired it and wanted to discuss it but that feels so intrusive. Still, this is an important reason to create a quilt. Perhaps the most important. We share joys easily but sorrow is a solitary burden.

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  5. I am increasingly drawn to the idea of repurposing clothing and, as you say, each garment carries its own significance, history and memories. I believe if you are 'intimately connected' to your fabrics then you understand them better and produce better work using them. But that's just me!

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    1. Yes, I'm beginning to like the idea of using family clothing. Not sure I'm ready to pick up thrift store clothes.
      I dislike forgetting a fabric in my stash. It signals there are too many. But that encourages me to make more quilts before buying more fabric. And that's a good thing for me.

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  6. Thanks for sharing. Very encouraging to me. Being authentic is so brave and refreshing. Thanks again.

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  7. I love the idea of repurposing, but I don't do a lot of it. If I have a great shirt that my husband (or I) have outgrown, I'll cut it up and throw it in my fabric. What I am amazed at is that you don't have a larger stash! You are very disciplined!:)

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    1. I love other people's work but haven't done much myself. However, my very first quilt used mostly outgrown dresses I'd made for my sisters.
      As for stash size, I'm just made this way. One of my oldest friends laughingly tells me I've complained that it's too large as long as she's known me. And she's right. I make a lot of quilts, though.

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  8. Ann it's so refreshing to see someone that's been quilting for a very long time with relatively little fabric - "She who has the most QUILTS" definitely wins! I'm like you I think, I can't stand having stuff around that's not being used. I can't even keep things in the attic because if it's out of sight it's out of mind; I don't want to hide treasured things away I want to be able to find them, or look at them often. Another thing, and this is perhaps a bit morbid, is that I really can't bear the idea of dying and leaving a ton of rubbish for other people to have to sort through! Which brings me neatly to Sherri's quilt that you linked to. I hadn't seen that particular one before and it was so moving - the little scrap in the corner with the handprints just brought tears to my eyes. (PS please don't turn into your husband, you're wonderful as you are!!)

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    1. I prefer to keep what I'm actively using. I never hide it (because I'll never find it again) although I do like to keep fabric from dust and light. It amazes me when people post about the garage sale they went to with boxes of fabric or unopened tools. Unless they use it, your heirs will be doing the same thing some day. Who will ever like these fabrics more than me? So I should use them now.
      Sherri's quilts are amazing but this one has always been my favorite. What a glorious remembrance.

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  9. Ann, I end up adding one or two really old fabrics in my quilts. To me those quilts always remain meaningful. I am guilty of saving my stash but then it is so easy to just go in the sewing room and start a quilt. No need to go shopping.. And I do love my stash!
    xo

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    1. I particularly like having quilts with fabrics spanning several years. I freely admit I'm an outlier but too much stuff stifles me. I sew less than when there's a smaller amount to begin. It's fun to see how different people work and what arrangements work best for them.

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